Larry and Debby Kline artists and provocateurs – installation, performances, and other works

Forty Acres


Funded by: Center for Land Use Interpretation, Vis Arts at University of California, San Diego, and University of California’s Institute for Research in the Arts Innovative Residencies Grant (UCIRA).

“In a newer project near Wendover, Utah, titled “Forty Acres,” they are raising the issue of land use. There’s no mule involved, but using what they call an M1 mobility scooter/tank, the Klines ‘captured 40 acres in the Bonneville Salt Flats and mined salt on land formerly held by the Bureau of Land Management BLM’.”  - San Diego Union Tribune

“They (the Klines) came prepared with a flag for the new territory, and defended it with a skeletal M1 Tank, which rolled around on the chassis of an electric wheelchair. The BLM official who manages the federally owned flats was seen approaching them for a discussion. What sort of bargain was struck remains unknown, but he left without drawing his sidearm. He probably had other things on his mind, such as enforcing the one mile exclusionary arc around the ‘Pirates of the Caribbean III’ set, shimmering in the distance.”  - The Lay of the Land, The Center for Land Use Interpretation

“The area is peppered with toxic waste dumps, strip mines, military proving grounds and ammunition bunkers.  Wendover Air force base is home to the Enola Gay hangar, an enormous structure which housed the bomber that dropped the first atomic bomb.   Indeed this is fertile ground for artistic experimentation and a charged environment to explore links between art, science and anthropology.   Global Positioning Systems (GPS) (is) a technology particularly well suited to the vastness and strangeness of the Bonneville Salt Flats.” - TransArtists Nieuwsbrief 18 (Netherlands)

“Question: What are you going to do in five minutes and why are you afraid?

Larry: This is our opening day ceremony.  We’re going to read our proclamation in which we talk about the fact that we have liberated this land from the BLM, that we now have the mineral rights and we are selling salt from our forty acres.

Question: And why are you afraid?

Debby: We’re afraid that maybe they are more armed than we are…. (BLM vehicle approaches)”

- On The Edge of the Internal Fringe by Huong Ly and Sarah McClelland

FORTY ACRES was created during a residency at The Center for Land Use Interpretation’s facilities at Wendover, Utah. The Klines captured forty acres on the Bonneville Salt Flats using GPS and Bare Bones (their M1 mobility scooter/tank), and subsequently mined salt on the land formerly held by the BLM. The work responds to the vast mining operations which dominate the landscape in this region.

The process of marking the land brought a flood of thoughts, a strangely authentic pride of ownership, a feeling for the wonder and desperation of the early settlers as they struggled to cross the terrain by wagon and on foot and recognition of the physical changes to the local topography that have been brought by development. Encouraged by local land use ordinances, a miner need only stake off a parcel of land, put up posts and file a few papers to extract minerals from the earth. In recent years a nominal filing fee has been added but the overarching mentality can only be described as a land grab, a Manifest Destiny with no shots fired.

© Copyright Larry and Debby Kline, 2006

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